By Rick Freeman
NEW YORK — For a team that just got swept and ran its losing streak to a season-high five games, the Cleveland Indians had plenty to be optimistic about.
They put together better at-bats against the Yankees in the finale than they had in the first two games, they put the go-ahead run on base in the ninth, and they even got another nice start on the road from Ubaldo Jimenez following a serviceable one from Justin Masterson.
Even though it all added up to a 5-4 loss Wednesday in the Bronx, the Indians can expect their top two starters to make their next starts. The Yankees put theirs on the disabled list. Before the game, CC Sabathia went on the DL with a strained groin, and Andy Pettitte broke his fibula in the fifth inning when he was hit by a ball off the bat of Casey Kotchman.
Robinson Cano hit a go-ahead homer off Jimenez (7-6) in the sixth after the Indians took the lead in the top of the fifth off the Yankees’ bullpen.
“We played better, better baseball today. I really liked the at-bats, especially at the end,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “Ubaldo threw the ball well. He made a few mistakes and they ended up making him pay for it.”
Rafael Soriano had an adventuresome ninth inning in which he put the first two batters on base and walked in a run with two outs before getting Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to left for his 17th save.
“We weren’t too far away,” Kotchman said. “Obviously the outcomes haven’t been favorable but we’re not too far away. We’re just trying to stay as positive as we can and things change around over 162 games.”
Pettitte was hit near his left ankle as he brought it around from the rubber while completing his delivery. The ball bounced toward the third base line and the left-hander went to field it, but it looked as if he couldn’t put weight on it and he went down on the grass.
He got back on the mound and threw several warm-up pitches before manager Joe Girardi let him stay in. But when he came up limping after throwing his first live pitch, Girardi popped out of the dugout and signaled for a pitching change.
“That’s not good to see,” Kotchman said. “You never want to see any player leave the field with that injury.”
Right-hander Cody Eppley came on with Kotchman on first and no one out. Lou Marson singled and Aaron Cunningham bunted the runners over before Kotchman was thrown out at the plate on Michael Brantley’s grounder to first base against Clay Rapada.
Cabrera hit a tying RBI single and Jason Kipnis followed with a blooper that fell in just beyond the glove of shortstop Jayson Nix to put the Indians ahead 3-2.
Jimenez gave the lead back in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff double by Alex Rodriguez before Cano’s drive.
Shelley Duncan hit an RBI double in the second for Cleveland before Eric Chavez put the Yankees up 2-1 with a two-run double in the fourth and added an RBI single in the eighth.
Jimenez allowed four hits, four walks and four runs in six innings while striking out seven.
Pettitte had been working on another good start when he was hurt. He struck out 7 in four innings, and was charged with two runs, only one of which was earned. He has struck out about a batter per inning since returning May 13.
General manager Brian Cashman said Sabathia felt a twinge in the muscle on the inside of his left leg in the fourth inning against the Mets. He didn’t tell anyone about it until he could still feel discomfort after throwing in the bullpen on Tuesday.
Girardi said the Yankees expect to have Sabathia, who is 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA, back shortly after the All-Star break. Longtime starter Freddy Garcia was expected to return to the Yankees rotation in place of the Cy Young-winner, but he had to pitch in the fifth inning, after Eppley and Rapada got the first two outs.
Garcia (2-2) struck out cleanup hitter Jose Lopez to end the fifth, then worked a scoreless sixth and seventh.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put up more runs for Ubaldo,” Kotchman said. “He threw great. To make the pitches that he did against that lineup and in this ballpark. He did great and that’s encouraging and I’m happy to see that.”
The Indians claimed former Mets utility player Vinny Rottino off waivers from New York, which designated him for assignment on Monday. He hit .182 with a double, two homers and 5 RBIs in 18 games with the Mets. Cleveland made room for him on the 40-man roster by designating RHP Chris Schwinden for assignment. Schwinden had appeared for the Mets earlier this season, but had been claimed previously by the Blue Jays before the Indians.
• Indians C Carlos Santana, who was the DH on Wednesday, was pinch-hit for in the ninth because his back tightened up.